People who consumed more than 2,100 calories a day were far more likely to double the risk of ‘mild cognitive impairment’ (MCI) than those who ate less calories, according to researchers.
Scientists in the U.S. looked at the eating and drinking habits of 1,200 people aged 70 to 89 who did not have dementia, and gave them memory tests.
They found that 163 had developed memory problems and the risk was more than twice as high for those who consumed the most calories.
The connection was clear even after the scientists had adjusted the data to account for other factors that could influence memory loss, such as educational levels or a history of strokes, diabetes or depression.
MCI is the stage between the normal memory loss that comes with aging, and the beginnings of Alzheimer’s disease. Research link MCI to high calorie diet according to study author Dr. Yonas Geda, from the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
‘Cutting calories and eating foods that make up a healthy diet may be a simpler way to prevent memory loss as we age,’ Dr. Geda suggested.
‘We observed a dose-response pattern, which means: the higher the number of calories consumed each day, the higher the risk,’ he said.
The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual conference in April.
Researchers are now increasingly interested in the role played by diet and exercise relative to memory loss due to old age.
Dr. Marie Janson, from Alzheimer’s Research UK, said the findings were interesting, and fitted in with “the bigger picture of a healthy lifestyle preventing Alzheimer’s in later life”.